Huge storage facility to be built in Appleton, as industry faces growing demand

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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) -- It's a booming $38 million a year industry and the demand for storage space isn't going away.

Appleton is no exception as the city council Wednesday night approved a special-use development agreement for a project that's quite large.

Construction would take place on the site of a former Kmart store along West College Avenue between North Lynndale Drive and North Perkins Street.

The land has been vacant since the demolition of the store almost a decade ago.

The proposal calls for a climate controlled facility of 12 buildings, which make up 194,000 square feet with space for retail on a strip along College Avenue.

Developer Sig Strautmanis of General Capital out of Milwaukee told the city council on May 2,"You're seeing a representation of something that's not going to be your metal building with garage doors."

Industry experts say the space occupied by self-storage facilities tripled over the past 25 years and there are several reasons why.

"It's been growing like wild, and a lot of that is driven by the fact that real estate prices have climbed so high in many markets. That coupled with the fact that the Baby Boomers represent 25 percent of the American population, you're seeing a lot of down sizing happening," said Kyle Bainter, co-founder of Callbox Storage, a Dallas-based company.

Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna said there's a need, too.

"I tell you what, it's going to be a lot nicer than what it looks like now. It's going to generate tax base. They're not asking for any contribution from the city, and we will work with them on the development of that front piece and I think it will be a nice development," said Hanna.

Bainter added, "2017 was a record year for the construction of storage facilities. You're seeing occupancy rates up close to 90 percent across the country."

There was some opposition to this project, mostly concerning aesthetics but the developer and Prime Storage, which owns the land, promise to work with the city.

Construction will take place in phases, although an exact timetable isn't clear.